A man accused of scamming an Oak Bluffs woman out of $25,000 is also facing charges related to allegedly bilking a Vineyard Haven business owner out of the sale money for an antique Volkswagen.
Mason Buddy, 81, pleaded not guilty last month to a charge of larceny more than $1,200 after an elderly Oak Bluffs woman told police she gave to Buddy, whom she met at McLean Hospital, $25,000 that he said he was going to invest.
After reading about that in The Times, Clarence “Trip” Barnes, who has a car business in Tisbury, told police the story of how he extended credit to Buddy. Barnes said Buddy, whom he had purchased cars from in the past, told him he had a buyer for a 1962 Volkswagen Barnes owned.
That car had quite the history itself. In an interview with The Times, Barnes said the car was originally purchased by Loring Rowe, the former vice president of LaSalle Steel, who lived in Edgartown. He purchased the VW at a dealership in Oak Bluffs and took delivery of it in Germany so his wife could tour Europe, Barnes said. Eventually, Rowe had the car shipped to the Island.
“Mr. Buddy said he had a customer ready for this ‘time capsule,’ and I did not hear from him again for years until he walked into my office two weeks ago to ‘borrow’ a car,” Barnes wrote in his statement to police. “He had his own plates.”
When Buddy recently returned to the Island late last year and Barnes questioned Buddy about the nonpayment for the VW, “he said he was in his 80s and his memory failed him,” Barnes wrote. “Buddy then said of course he was back and would pay me but would I like to invest $5,000 in a stock that would pay double in a matter of weeks. I said, ‘No.’”
Barnes did let Buddy use a car for the weekend, but later heard from a nurse at the hospital that the car had been left in the lot and she had the keys, according to the statement written by Barnes. The nurse told Barnes that Buddy had been taken to McLean Hospital.
Buddy would re-emerge on the Island again last month, Barnes said, but this time Barnes refused to let him use the car, and had one of his employees return Buddy’s dealer plate to him. That’s when he learned that he wasn’t Buddy’s only victim.
“On Sunday (Jan. 13), I found an article on The MVTimes with a big story on Buddy scamming an Oak Bluffs resident out of $25,000,” Barnes wrote. Barnes went to police with his story, which dated back several years. It turned out Buddy had sold the VW to a Connecticut wholesaler for $7,000, Barnes said.
Barnes told police he had $6,000 invested in the antique VW. He hoped it would fetch $10,000 to $12,000.
As The Times previously reported, Buddy has a history of bilking people out of money, and was sentenced to federal prison in 1999. During that sentencing, he was ordered to make $334,000 in restitution to more than 11 people he had bilked out of money. He was also ordered not to incur any new charges.
“But the fact is I recognize, candidly, that imposing a sentence on you at your age and with this background has little likelihood of reforming or rehabilitating you,” Judge William Young wrote in his sentencing decision. “But we trust it may deter other people. And it is a just sentence … It is not this court’s view that in view of your age, the sentence ought to be less. And I’m even willing to accept in some sort of deluded way you hoped that you might earn something with other people’s money.”
Tisbury Police have also charged Buddy with larceny of more than $1,200 by a single scheme. He remains in the Dukes County jail, where he has failed to post bail. He is due back in Edgartown District Court on Feb. 14, and Barnes will be in the gallery watching.
“Do I think I’ll get my money? No, no probably not,” Barnes said. “But I’m forever an optimist.”